Comments about ‘TV show to preview Smith Papers Project’

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Published: Sunday, Nov. 4 2007 12:00 a.m. MDT

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How about running the Joseph Smith Papers Project on BYU-TV after it runs on KJZZ so those of us outside of the Utah media market can watch it?


I wonder... Would Joseph Smith rather have the letters published on a website where anyone in the world could easily download and view or have them published in books that are, we're delighted to learn in this article, less than $2400 for the entire set?
I'd guess the former. Maybe the project directors are planning to do both and the website part was just omitted from this article.

Steve Romero

How important is it to know Joseph Smith as a person? Priceless.


As a historian, I know firsthand that the church doesn't want to publish things that do not make the church--or its founders--look good. How do we know this won't happen with the Joseph Smith Papers project? We need more than Ron Esplin's word.

David Arntsen

I look forward to visiting the website that will be created for these documents, and in learning all that I can that confirms the life's mission of this remarkable man.


Glad to see Dean Paynter's name on the television project. It's sure to be a quality production.


So, are there actually any objective non-mormon historians involved with this project?



It's great to see this project happening. The more we learn about Joseph, the more I am glad we named a son after him.

It was interesting to see "the Church-owned newspaper" candidly prints even the snide remark by the reporter, in paragraph 12. The haters will grab onto her statement as if it were fact, and not attempt to question it.

Her gratuitous editorial opinion in the midst of reporting may or may not be true; and, how do we know the motivations of unnamed leaders in his "reassignment"? It sounded like those self-appointed historians who take as fact any opinion that makes LDS leaders look conspiratorial, while overlooking the preponderance of wisdom and honesty in the Church's leadership and history.

Even honesty (non-censorship) in publishing the article. We've seen a lot of articles in the DMN that demonstrate this openness, and expect it will continue.

I eagerly await the TV shows described.

Army Guy

The project isn't even close to being finished, and there are already critics lined up outside. Amazing! How can anyone question objectivity when the texts haven't been produced yet? That is both insulting and revealing--the "objectivity" you are interested in is anything that casts a shadow on Joseph Smith or the LDS Church. Pathetic.

I, for one, am looking forward to reading these letters when they are published. We all should thank Larry H. Miller too, since his financial contributions resurrected this project that started in the '60s and stalled because of money. And thanks to all the scholars and specialists who have ensured that "millions shall know Brother Joseph again."

Ken Baguley

Thanks Larry Miller for your generous support...Some of us can't wait to read history generated from real live documents. Joseph, Joseph, Joseph...He was and is great.

LDS History Buff

As a member of the LDS Church and an historian, I am intrigued by this project. However, the LDS Church -- especially over the last couple of decades -- has been VERY careful about what kind of information is released. They tend to avoid controversial and negative information and only focus on the "faith-promoting. This way, the LDS Church and its members are viewed positively.

Since this project is funded, produced, and promoted by LDS sources, I fear it will not be objective. I hope I'm wrong because Joseph Smith was such an amazingly interesting individual, but based on past experience, I don't have much faith in the LDS Chruch's ability to offer "full disclosure".

Projects and articles released by the LDS Church during the last 20 years, have been disappointing to me. Although they were, in most respects, historically accurate, they often chose to ignore or edit out controversial and negative aspects while emphasizing the positive. The end results were something that gave readers an unrealistic portrayal of actual events.

Nevertheless, I'm anxiously waiting to view this project when released. I hope it will be worthwhile.

Drs. Jack Ayre

Thank you Mr. Miller for your great contributions to this scholarly project. I also look forward to the documentaries and the printed materials.
I for one trust the outcome and believe it will follow the procedures and rules as outlined by the reviewing parties. These methods have gained worldwide acceptance and I believe the qualified researchers will not endanger their reputations.

Clio's Muse

LDS History Buff, well said. Army Guy, there are decent, well intentioned people out there (I know this is hard to believe for you) who want to see all the documents of Joseph Smith published, warts and all. This doesn't mean they revel in his shortcomings; it means they don't want their history sanitized by an institution. I would like to know who is on the editorial board and who, specifically, represents an non-LDS perspective. I don't think for a minute Jan Shipps, the most eminent non-LDS historian, would allow the record to be censored. Will the D. News find this out and print a story?

Speculation vs. Fact

"By the fruits shall ye know them." The "assumption" is that the volumes will either be "great" or "non-inclusive" or "manipulated." Let's wait and see the results. Everyone knows that openness and truth always wins in the end.

Henry Drummond

Five years ago the church released about 400,000 documents in DVD format. As an historian I use them quite often. While there is a great deal of uncensored information there are also several hundred entries that are blacked out.

Most of them can be seen as an attempt to protect revealing sacred things like the temple, or to protect matters that were confessional in nature. Unfortunately, a comparison with journals and other credible documents reveal that some of these items were blacked out to avoid embarrassing contradictions with official church history.

Likewise, I suspect you will find that certain materials will not be available for this project because they are sitting in a special vault in the office of the First Presidency out of the hands of even the Church's most trusted and faithful historians.

Things are much better than they were when Dr. Arrington was unceremoniously released as Church Historian, but I doubt the Church will really want to release all the documents of Joseph Smith. I don't know if a table of contents of all the papers is available yet, but I could tell you just from that what is being held back.

Army Guy

To Clio's Muse:

Despite your condescending assumption, I don't want an institutionally sanitized document either--that was not my point. My point was, how pathetic it is to assume that the board can't be objective unless there is a non-LDS viewpoint. That's insulting. And here's something else for you: there is no such thing as 100% objectivity in the field of history, or any other field for that matter. There is always an element of revisionism based on the researcher's personal, inescapable bias. So no matter what the composition, someone will complain that this board wasn't being objective enough for their taste.

Army Guy

As for Henry Drummond's "embarassing contradictions" in official church history--really? What deep dark secrets do you think the church has to hide? Why keep potentially damaging information in a secret vault--if we don't know about it, why not just destroy it? Nobody would miss it, right? What's the point in keeping it? But you say the First Presidency is directly involved in a plot to keep information from the "Church's most trusted and faithful historians." That's a pretty serious charge. I seriously doubt you have access to that kind of information. If the Church historians don't know about it, how do you?

Christopher T.Jones

GOD BLESS LARRY H. MILLER---not only for this but for all the other projects the man is responsible for that few know about. I love the man!


If the Church historians don't know about it, how do you? That is the problem. LDS Historians know what goes on inside the Temple, but non mormons do not. Maybe they should tell us if the are True Historians.

weightless skittles

" If you look for the bad in people, you surely will find it." - A quote from Pollyanna.- Cynics are cancerous miseries. Joseph Smith was a REAL man. He never stated he was perfect. Quite the contrary. He lived over 150 years ago. His paradigms were quite different than ours in 2007. Yet, I doubt very few people today could stand up to the intense scrutiny of what Joseph Smith's name has been through in the last 187 years since that morning in a wooded grove. The more I know about his "real side" the more I respect his ability to move forward the work of the Lord.

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